Above the Line Education Forum Participants


Nando Carter (he/him)

My name is Fernando Galarza Carter but I go by Nando Carter for short, and for the past 8years, my passion for filmmaking has driven me to bring to life the stories of underrepresented voices and my cultural heritage through the lens of cinema.

My journey has led me to create short films that have found a voice in various film festivals, each project a testament to the power of storytelling. Filmmaking for me is more than a craft; it’s a medium of expression, a way to give life to narratives that resonate deeply.

As I look forward, my aspiration is to elevate this passion to new heights, crafting impactful stories on a grander scale and continuing to illuminate the richness and diversity of human experiences.

vee hua (they/them)

Vee Hua 華婷婷 (they/them) is a writer, filmmaker, and organizer with semi-nomadic tendencies. Much of their work unifies their metaphysical interests with their belief that art can positively transform the self and society. They are the Editor-in-Chief of REDEFINE, a Co-Chair of the Seattle Arts Commission, and until recently, the Interim Managing Editor of the South Seattle Emerald. Prior to that, they were the Executive Director of the interdisciplinary community hub, Northwest Film Forum, where they played a groundbreaking role in making the space more welcoming and accessible for diverse audiences.

Their latest short film, Reckless Spirits (2022), is a metaphysical, multi-lingual POC buddy comedy; the feature film version is slated for production in 2025. Vee is also in post-production on a short documentary film about Hunt’s Trading Post in Southern Utah, just outside of the Navajo and Ute Nations.

In 2017, Vee released the narrative short film, Searching Skies — which touches on Syrian refugee resettlement in the United States — and co-organized The Seventh Art Stand, a national film and civil rights discussion series against Islamophobia.

Vee is passionate about cultural space, the environment, and finding ways to covertly and overtly disrupt oppressive structures. They also regularly share observational human stories through their storytelling newsletter, RAMBLIN’ WITH VEE!, and are pursuing a Master’s in Tribal Resource and Environmental Stewardship under the Native American Studies Department at the University of Minnesota.

Sherri Bylenga (she/her)

Sherri Bylenga is an artist, musician and filmmaker from Spokane, Washington. With a spirit for adventure, she has traveled throughout the United States and around the world-finding the diversity of the human experience inspiring!

Sherri’s filmmaking career began in documentary including extreme sports (skiing, kayaking, rock climbing) and humanitarian pieces. She has worked in remote, wilderness settings from the Grand Canyon to Yellowstone National Park. Passionate about healing the fissure between humanity and the natural world, ecopsychology is a strong theme of her work. Sherri is a mental health counselor practicing the creative modalities of adventure therapy, art therapy, yoga therapy and equine therapy. She considers her years working as a whitewater raft guide to hold some of the most enriching and formative experiences of her life.

In the past three years, she has refocused her energy into her lifelong dream of directing narrative feature films. Sherri has directed multiple narrative and documentary shorts, continuing to develop her 15+ years of technical skills as a writer, cinematographer, editor and special effects artist. Sherri believes in the power of film to change the world and aspires to inspire with the projects she creates. Films she is currently developing include a surreal nature fantasy featuring mermaids and an edgy dramedy which offers a stark reflection of her hometown that challenges gender norms.

Sean Nguyen (he/him)

Sean Nguyen is a Seattle based Actor and Filmmaker. While studying at the University of Washington, he got his start in the theatre community with companies such as Pork Filled Productions and ReAct Theatreand subsequently transitioned into film. Having numerous shorts under his, he has slowly been expanding his reach by participating and screening in multiple festivals throughout the country netting him awardsfor Best Actor and other awards for the films as well. His one true goal with his career is to become the first SE Asian American Male to win an Oscar for Best Acting. With a passion for storytelling and a dedication to substance and quality, he has adopted a motto since the beginning of his career in theindustry; Aspiring to represent and make a change.

Samuel Ebat (he/him)

Samuel is a PNW native who now lives in Tacoma, with his wife & son. He’s been working independently in video production for over a decade, shooting, directing & editing for companies large & small. He’s developed a keen respect for the production process, and finds it gratifying when he can see an idea through to its manifestation in the editing room. While the bulk of the projects he works on have been in the corporate/commercial space, he aims to continue developing as a filmmaker who tells meaningful, honest, well-crafted stories that serve people, or at least give them the gift of laughter.

Ryan Abrahamson (he/him)

Ryan Abrahamson has a life long love affair with art and cinema.  He interjects his American Indian culture motifs into every modern illustration, film and musical composition he creates.

Ronnie Kabuika (he/him)

Ronnie kabuikais a celebrated filmmaker, director,and producer based in Seattle.Renowned in the cultural circles of the Congo, his country of origin, Africa, and Europe, his artisticjourney spans various domains, including plastic arts, visual arts, music and predominantly cinema, theart form he cherishes the most for encapsulating all others he has practiced.His diverse filmography includes short films like “l’Autre Moi”, “Mabele Sura Dji”, and the popularTV series “L’Equipe”. His first feature film, “Villa Matata” has received international acclaim. As he continue to evolve andtake on new challenges, his work is a testament of his dedication for a bright future on the global stage.

Q Bell (he/him)

Q Bell is a writer/director born and raised in Seattle, WA.  He credits the tragic losses of multiple childhood friends to gun violence and prison system for fueling his desire to tell stories across various genres that examine the complexities of the human condition.  He loves to explore troubled souls who attempt to do the right thing in an imperfect world.  As a veteran of the United States Air Force, the diversity he encountered during an honorable term refined his palate for storytelling and character exploration.  Quintin studied filmmaking, screenwriting, and cinematography at The Los Angeles Film School and New York Film Academy respectively.  After graduating, he wrote and directed multiple short films and music videos.  In 2021 he shot the short film AWAY, an unflinching look at the cycle of violence annihilating black families in America.  AWAY was accepted into multiple film festivals and won a Gold Remi Award for best dramatic short film at WorldFest International Film Festival.

LIVt (she/her)

Olivia Thomas (LIVt) is a multidisciplinary creative whose work ranges from music composition, toDirecting, video production, project management, branding, graphic design, and marketing. She is most known for abilities to soundly execute a creative story, organize and produce dynamic visuals, craft unique aesthetics, and successfully collaborate with others.

CB Shamah (he/him)

Nesib CB Shamah is a Louisiana born, multiracial producer/director living in Seattle, WA and was the recipient of the 2019 Seattle Mayor’s Award for Achievement in Film.  Wile leading the reopening of the historic Columbia City Theater music venue, he produced and directed live music shoots and promotional content, the music web series DESTINATION UNKNOWN and the Northwest Emmy nominated documentary WELCOME TO DOE BAY.  CB was also part of the producing team on the films HASKELL, LANE 1974, THIN SKIN and Sudeshna Sen’s ANU.  SOJOURN, CB’s 2022 supernatural thriller, has just wrapped up a festival run.

Nancy Pappas (she/her)


Morgan Dukes (she/her)

Morgan is a director, writer, and producer from Ypsilanti, Michigan.  She found her love of storytelling as a child through performing in her school musicals.  She then transitioned to stage managing and assistant directing for theater, which ultimately led her to film.  She started her filmmaking journey in 2022 when she directed, produced, and co-wrote her first film, The Pointe, that screened at multiple film festivals including the National Film Festival for Talented Youth and the Pacific Northwest Ballet Dance Film Festival.  Morgan then dove into the episodic space and directed Start Up: Palmieri Tech, a mockumentary web-series about a struggling start-up tech company.  Since 2022, she’s directed four short films, two episodes of a web-series, and has crewed on several short films produced in the greater Seattle area.  She’s excited to continue directing and telling stories, and she’s especially passionate about coming-of-age tales that highlight the unique experiences of Black girlhood.

Misty Shipman (she/her)

Misty Shipman is an enrolled member of the Shoalwater Bay Tribe of Indians and a descendent of the Chinook Indian Tribe. She is a Pacific Northwestern filmmaker intent on sharing a femme,American Indian gaze that shifts the lens of power and frees the viewer from the reservation of the mind. Through visual sovereignty, she strives to create a space for authentic representation.Misty’s films have been featured in dozens of festivals, locally, nationally, and internationally.She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Idaho and a PhD in NativeAmerican Literature with a concentration in Film Studies from Washington State University.Misty is a board member of Stage Left Theater, where she serves as their Festival Director

Melinda Raebyne (she/her)

Melinda Raebyne is an award winning Taiwanese American filmmaker who’s fascinated and inspired by the resiliency of the human spirit. Learning of other people’s journeys reinforces for her belief that in each of us there’s a hero’s story waiting to be told. A self-taught filmmaker, Melinda received most of her training as an actor on set. After almost ten years of acting in other people’s films, Melinda decided to make her own; films that speak from her heart, told through the voices of society’s invisible. Giving a voice to those who are typically forgotten in our society. Her films examine important social topics with the hopes of better connecting us with one another. Through understanding, compassion is possible and with compassion, great change can happen. Melinda’s art demonstrates a universal desire to feel a sense of belonging. Currently, Melinda serves on the board for WA Lawyers for the Arts and WA Filmworks Film Leadership Council.

Marcus Williams (he/him)

Marcus Williams is an entrepreneur with a variety of experience owning and operating businesses within wholesale/retail, healthcare, marketing, and consulting. He has served his community as the former Chair of the Des Moines Art Commission and sat on committees that selected the artwork for Sound Transit’s Light Rail stations. Since 2017, film production has become his latest venture. After producing two films with success at festivals, he hopes to continue to help filmmakers bring their authentic and compelling stories to life.

Lucas San Juan (he/him)

Lucas is a creative producer and director of documentaries and commercials. He is the son of a Cuban refugee, and grew up in New Hampshire, where he watched every movie he could get his hands on (by the age of 7, he was a devotee of the Alien series and science fiction classics). A lifelong love of local politics, roadtripping, and national parks influenced his interest in making documentaries about the American story in all its forms.

Lucas has produced branded documentaries and commercials for brands including Amazon,Ring, WeatherBug, Bloomberg, University of Maryland, Lennar, Johns Hopkins, and many more. Previously, he worked as a creative and business strategy consultant advising production companies and VFX firms.

He is producing the upcoming feature documentary,The Heart Grows Old in Autumn, partially supported by Ford Foundation JustFilms. The film is a multi-generational tale following the first community of Rohingya refugees in America.Spanning three generations, the film follows the first Rohingya-Americans as they build new lives and experience their American story.

Whether he’s road tripping, hiking, or filming on location, Lucas seeks out every corner ofAmerica. He brings this passion to creating unorthodox production solutions that create cinematic and insightful imagery with nimble crews.

LexScope (human)

LexScope: Director, Festival Curator, Visionary Artist

LexScope, an award-winning artist and film festival programmer, traces his artistic roots to NorthCarolina, with a transformative decade in Tacoma/Seattle shaping his multidisciplinary journey.Exploring life as a black man navigating the shadows of the American dream, LexScope is the creative force behind LexScope Productions, captivating audiences on Instagram, YouTube, and various online platforms with over 100 million views. Collaborating with UNCF, AlaskaAirlines, Reebok, Nordstroms, The CUT, AMC Theatres, and others, LexScope’s artistry extends from the screen to social media.

His latest venture, Scope Screenings, is Seattle’s premier underground film festival. Focused onBIPOC and underrepresented voices, Scope Screenings brings narrative short films, music videos, and impactful short-form content to the big screen. As the curator of this dynamic showcase, LexScope amplifies diverse perspectives, fostering inclusivity and creativity.

LexScope’s journey transcends boundaries, leaving an indelible mark on the artistic landscape.With a commitment to breaking barriers and celebrating the extraordinary, LexScope invites audiences to join him on a visionary exploration of art and identity.

Kristine Ponten (she/her)

Kristine is a creative writer, director, and producer with a background in Special Education. She recently completed a year-long apprenticeship working forThe Late Show with Stephen Colbert, where she got to learn the nuts and bolts of various production departments for a broadcast television show during an Emmy-nominated season. She has additionally worked behind the scenes of the viral YouTube channel, Dad, how do I? which has amassed over 4.7 million subscribers since its inception in 2020. She loves engaging with off-beat stories where kids and adults feel valued, inspired, and a little braver.

Jeremiah Rounds (he/him)

Jeremiah Rounds, a transplant from Las Vegas, is a fairly recent addition to the Washington filmmaking scene. He is a multifaceted talent known for his roles as a director, producer, writer, as well as extensive experience in the art department. He has produced two films, “Behind the Card” and “Abductee,” and has also contributed to other notable films such as “Jason Bourne”and “Sympathy for the Devil,” as well as tv shows like “Hell’s Kitchen” and “The 900 Series.” Renowned for his ability to craft compelling narratives and manage complex productions, Rounds brings a wealth of experience and a fresh perspective to the region. He is currently preparing to film his first feature here in Washington, titled “Survival.” Set for production early next year, it marks an exciting new chapter in his cinematic career.

Hanan Diriye (she/her)


Jasira Andrus (she/her)

Jasira Andrus is a Seattle based writer and director.  A lifelong lover of film, Jasira has spent the past year taking a hands-on approach to learning the foundations of filmmaking, so she can create her own works.  Through completing several education programs at Northwest Film Forum, Jasira was able to write and co-direct her first short film, “The Mimic”. She was also selected as the writer/director apprentice for Northwest Film Forum’s Action! Narrative Apprenticeship Program, and completed her second short, “Babs’ Bouquets”. Jasira’s works incorporate surrealism and comedy, and have explored themes such as artistic vulnerability, grief, and relationships.  Aside from screenwriting, Jasira is also in the process of writing her first graphic novel.

Champ Ensminger (he/him)

Champ is a Thai American filmmaker born in Chiang Mai, Thailand and raised in Spokane. After graduating from the University of Washington in Seattle, he moved to New York City where he worked at the video hosting site Vimeo and then as production support for the agency m ss ng p eces. His experience on commercial productions in New York included brans like Spotify, American Express, and Red Bull Music Academy.

Champ returned to his maternal roots in Chiang Mai in 2013 where he spent time as a volunteer and workshop instructor at Documentary Arts Asia, a photography and film nonprofit highlighting Asia-based media artists.  In 2015 his work in documentary and music video granted him the Emerging Artist Fellowship by the Jacob Burns Film Center in Westchester, New York.

He returned to Seattle to continue his commercial work as a staff editor at the Seattle agency, World Famous, for 7 years, creating content for brands like T-Mobile, Microsoft, AWS, and Taco Time NW.  In the early months of COVID, his documentary film produced in Chiang Mai, YAI NIN, enjoyed an award-winning festival run.

Champ is currently a freelance editor for clients large and small.  He also serves on position 6 of the City of Seattle’s Film Commission, representing post-production.  Outside his commercial work, his personal work has spanned documentary shorts and narrative-driven music videos.  He has recently taught on editing in Adobe Premiere, developing pitch decks, and the narrative potential of Dungeons and Dragons.

Photo by Canh Nguyen

Ezra Asfaw (he/him)

Hello, my name is Ezra Asfaw, a Seattle native and first-generation Ethiopian. In 2019, I graduated from UW with a bachelor’s degree in Communications and soon after pursued a degree in Film Directing at MetFilm School in London, UK. There, I worked on various film projects and directed and wrote my debut short film, “Out of Reach,”.

Upon completing my London program, I returned to Seattle, embracing the role of a freelance production coordinator and eventually producer. Eager to create our own narrative, a friend andI founded Cultivate Media—a small production company with a core mission of highlighting inclusivity and diversity in local underrepresented communities.

Currently immersed in developing my next film, I am both honored and grateful to participate in the Above the Line Education Forum. This opportunity will allow me to learn from industry professionals, expand my knowledge and foster my success in this dynamic and evolving field. I am looking forward to the exciting journey ahead!

Devyn Pedrano (he/him)

Devyn Pedrano-Snow (he/him) is a creative veteran and a multi-passionate individual in film and music.

Born in Renton, Washington, he dedicated six years to theU.S. Air Force after high school and finished with an honorable discharge to pursue his creative ventures. Devyn studied music production/audio engineering at Icon Collective in Burbank, California and currently studying filmmaking at Seattle Film Institute in his last semester of the program.

Co-owner of creative agency, Studio 7117, he and his wife have been creating brands in photo, video, and graphic design for over six years.

In the past two years, Devyn has been focused on incorporating all his artistic disciplines into filmmaking and storytelling as a means to express his lived experience

Bri Torres (she/her/ella)

Brianna Torres is a Mexican and Cuban-American award winning filmmaker from the Sonoran Desert of Arizona. She is the Media Arts Programming Lead at the makerspace BARN Bainbridge where she also teaches film classes. Brianna is a floral designer and loves everything about plants, flowers and stones. Before moving from Los Angeles to the Pacific Northwest, she worked as a music supervisor and art department coordinator for NBCUniversal and on independent feature films, web series and music videos. A runner over half her life, she qualified for the Olympic Trials Marathon and ran a 6-day stage race over the Rocky Mountains with her friends. Art, nature and culture are the pillars by which Brianna likes to show up in the world. She is passionate about amplifying BIPOC and LGBTQ+ voices and centering women and indigenous knowledge. Brianna loves building community and learning new skills for sustainable crafts. She is currently finishing a documentary filmed in Cuba and working on film scripts. Brianna fills her life with a lot of cool things but her favorite and most challenging among them is being a mom.

Azra Alkan (she/her)

Azra Alkan, a Washington-based VFX professional, filmmaker, and Unreal Engine enthusiast, brings over a decade of industry experience to her work. She’s made her mark on major films like “Spider Man: Far From Home”, “Ant man and the Wasp”, “Gran Turismo” and popular TV series such as “StrangerThings”, “TheFlash.” Beyond post-production, Azra is an on set VFX presence, enhancing music videos and TV shows. Additionally, she’s a skilled filmmaker, crafting captivating stories for film festivals. Her versatile approach and dedication to pushing creative boundaries continue to mix innovation with traditional film-making tools in the entertainment industry.

Anthony Tackett (he/him)

Anthony Tackett has worked 23 years as a storyteller and filmmaker for a number of organizations locally and internationally. His company Abstract Media focuses on uplifting and empowering people to help them realize their vision and brand in media.

His work allowed him to fulfill his lifelong dream to travel the world; with his camera. A graduate of The Evergreen State Tacoma and now is studying as a Master Student at The Seattle FilmInstitute where he also served as Director of Operations and instructor. He has also taught in the community filmmaking fundamentals to students of all ages.

Anthony is now a Commissioner of the Seattle Film Commission, Founder of the SeattleFilmmakers of the African Diaspora (530+) strong) and Director of the Board atLangston. His endeavors don’t stop there as he is constantly creating with other amazing creators, partners and organizations. Look out for more from this fellow by following his social media.

Amanda Ebert (she/her)

Amanda Ebert (she/her/hers) is a Mount Vernon, WA-based multidisciplinary artist and entrepreneur who works in film & music, and co-founded Darcy BlueProductions with her partner on their family farm.

Amanda serves on the Board of Directors of Women in Film Seattle, and works in the cinema tech department at SIFF for year-round programming and the SeattleInternational Film Festival. In recent years she’s worked in the cinema tech departments of Tribeca Film Festival and Seattle Queer Film Festival.

Mountain Violet, her directorial debut, premiered at the West Sound Film Festival in 2023, where it won Best Short Narrative Cinematography, and continued on the PNW film festival circuit to Local Sightings, Seattle Film Summit, SeattleQueer Film Festival, Oregon Short Film Festival, and more.

Her production company Darcy Blue Productions serves and empowers nonprofits of the PNW, partnering with environmental, educational, and tribal organizations, while producing narrative work that highlights the inner worlds of women.

Amanda produces & performs independently in Seattle. She is represented byTCM Talent as an actor and voiceover artist, and contributes vocals, keyboards,& percussion as a founding member of Indie-folk bandBabes in Canyon.

Originally from Milwaukee WI, Amanda lived in New York and Los Angeles before moving to Washington-working in theatre, film, & comedy in various capacities-as an actor, producer, devised theatre creator, and collaborator in developing new works. Amanda holds a BFA in Acting with a minor in Arts &Entertainment Management from Pace University School of Performing Arts inNew York City.

Shea Formanes (she/they)

Shea Formanes is a Filipino-American writer/filmmaker born and raised in New York City(specifically Queens), currently based in Seattle. Influenced by her love of coming-of-age stories, she writes and directs works that tackle themes of family, friendship, and generational trauma in marginalized, specifically BIPOC and LGBTQIA+, communities. A recent graduate of the University of Washington, her works include the romantic coming-of-age short film, The Kettle and the sci-fi/drama stage play, Bahay Kubo.Most recently, she was the 1st AD apprentice in the Action! Narrative Apprenticeship Program at the Northwest Film Forum, where she worked on the upcoming short film, Bab’s Bouquets.In addition, she’s the head writer on the forthcoming sci-fi animated series, Defenders of Alodia, and is currently in post-production for her feature film debut: the sci-fi/drama, I Watched Her Grow.

Aaron Jin (any pronouns)

Aaron Jin is an independent filmmaker and actor. Currently, Aaron is in post-production for Gay Jesus with producer David Bradburn. On screen, Aaron can be seen in Wes Hurley’s Potato Dreams of America and in an upcoming Duplass Brothers Productions series. Outside of artist life, Aaron serves as Artist Trust’s board secretary and as a marketing consultant with Scandiuzzi & Krebs. In 2022, they were selected for artEquity’s BIPOC Leadership Circle.